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City of Ottawa owed millions in outstanding fines for red light running, photo radar violations

Drivers in Ontario and Quebec owe the city of Ottawa millions of dollars in unpaid fines for running red lights and photo radar violations over the past six years, according to statistics provided to CTV News Ottawa.

Approximately seven per cent of the 581,489 tickets issued through Ottawa's automated speed enforcement cameras and red light cameras between Jan. 1, 2018 and Aug. 31, 2023 remain outstanding, and the fine has not been paid.

There were 20 photo radar cameras in operation on Ottawa roads this summer, while there are 85 red light camera locations in Ottawa. The city launched the automated speed enforcement camera program in July 2020, with cameras initially installed in eight school zones.

As of Aug. 31, there were 41,750 outstanding tickets to drivers caught by photo radar cameras or red light cameras.  There are 18,581 outstanding tickets for red light camera violations, and 23,169 unpaid tickets for automated speed enforcement camera violations.

A ticket is considered past due 91 days from the day the notice of infraction is issued, according to Joseph Muhuni, Deputy City Treasurer Revenue.

"Prior to the pandemic, the average of past due tickets was approximately four per cent," Muhuni said.

Statistics provided by the city to CTV News Ottawa shows Ontario drivers have the most outstanding fines, with 22,113 unpaid tickets for photo radar camera violations and 12,949 unpaid red light camera tickets.

Quebec motorists have 1,001 unpaid tickets for photo radar violations and 5,717 outstanding tickets for red light camera violations.

Drivers from other provinces have 35 outstanding tickets for photo radar violations and 15 unpaid tickets for running a red light.

Muhuni says the city of Ottawa has "reciprocal agreements" with the other provinces to ensure "collections of fines for unpaid fines for residents outside of Ontario."

"Unpaid fines can lead to license plate denial, transfer of offence to the property tax roll, garnishment of wages or a writ of seizure and sale. Additionally, the City can make referrals to a private collection agency for enhanced collection," Muhuni said.

In 2018, the city of Ottawa reached an agreement with the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, giving the city access to records and information of Quebec drivers.

The fine for being caught running a red light by the red light cameras is $325, which includes a service fee and victim surcharge.  The fine for speeding when caught by an automated speed enforcement camera depends on how fast the driver was travelling, with fines doubled for speeding in a community safety zone.

The city is owed $6 million in fine revenue through the outstanding red light camera tickets.

City Manager Wendy Stephanson says that while "people do always pay their tickets," the city does have tools available to ensure offenders pay the fines. 

"Some people pay it when they get it immediately, some people will take the time in terms of when they pay it, they wait for a reminder notice to come, and some people it requires action from the city to be able to do that," Stephanson said Wednesday.

"We have various processes in place that will help us in terms of the collection of those matters, as well as tools that will force or enforcement those payments."

Staff say there has been an increase in outstanding fines due to the pandemic.

Tickets issued through the automated speed enforcement cameras and red light cameras are issued to the registered owner of the vehicle, not the driver at the time of the infraction.

Revenue from all automated enforcement initiatives is allocated to road safety initiatives in the city of Ottawa.

The city of Ottawa says the 581,489 tickets issued through the automated speed enforcement and red light camera programs between Jan. 1, 2018 and Aug. 31, 2023 generated $74,475,613 in revenue. Top Stories

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